Today, 11th October, the first ever International Day of the Girl and the focus this year is on child marriage. I got to spend some of the day with Loreto Beaufort in Dublin with 100 First Years. What a treat that was. They were interested, asked loads of questions and were, one and all, perfectly charming and courteous.
A big thank you to the librarian Joan for organising this and I look forward to getting feedback from some of the girls who have read the book. It seems like a great school – in this week alone they have a focus on D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) time, on Harry Potter and the Loreto School in Rumbek Sudan.
First class of graduates at Rumbek
Snooki’s got game. Literally. (The “Jersey Shore” star is releasing a collection of eight apps for iPhone, Android, Facebook, and Google+ over the next two years as part of a partnership with App Genius. There hasn’t been any... Read the rest of this post
David L. Bosco is Assistant Professor in the School of International Service at American University. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he is a former Senior Editor at Foreign Policy and has been a political analyst and journalist in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a deputy director of a joint United Nations – NATO project in Sarajevo. His most recent book, Five To Rule Them All: The UN Security Council and the Making of The Modern World, tells the inside story of this remarkable diplomatic creation, illuminating the role of the Security Council in the postwar world, and making a compelling case for its enduring importance. In the original post below, Bosco reflects on Obama’s speech to the UN General Assembly today.
President Obama accomplished some important objectives in his speech to the UN General Assembly today. He emphasized how much has already changed under his administration, mentioning torture, Guantanamo, climate change, and Iraq in particular. But he also tried to to call the broader UN membership to task for what he called “reflexive anti-Americanism” and a tendency to always point at others when discussing international problems. As has often been the case internationally, the president is trying to both acknowledge American missteps but also convince the world to follow its lead.
Obama did some finger-pointing of his own. He identified Iran and North Korea as threats that might take the world down “a dangerous slope” of regional arms races and unchecked nuclear proliferation. He demanded that these countries face consequences if they continue to ignore the Security Council. But the language here was much more tempered than that used by President Bush in 2002 when he was trying to rally the world to confront Iraq. He did not even hint that the U.S. might work around the UN if that becomes necessary.
One notable absence in his speech: he did not mention reform of the Security Council, which has been a staple of other speeches at the General Assembly, particularly from developing world leaders. In general, the Obama administration has been quiet about the question of whether and how the Council should be expanded. It will be interesting to see whether he mentions the subject tomorrow, when he chairs a Council meeting on nonproliferation.
12 days of sci-fi, day 8:
Back on earth again, we switch gears to a story with a modern day setting that seems it could be straight out of today’s news…except the humanitarian aid workers aren’t quite what they seem to be. Parents should be advised that one of the themes to the plot is the abuse of very human-like female droids as sex slaves.
Tin Servants by J. Sherer
Editor’s comment: “He’d (the author) read a lot of stories about robots trying to act human, but humans acting as robots?”
This is a solid, fast-paced action drama set in Ghana nearly 50 years from now. The trauma and tragedy of a war-torn African nation, as well as risk to the protagonist, are realistically told almost as if we were watching an award-winning film. The beauty to reading stories instead of watching them in film is that the reader has the benefit of the character’s self-talk. We sense Paul’s, a/k/a TK-19’s, yearning to help the refugees with every cell in his body. Or at least the ones that are still human…
Don’t miss out. Pick up a copy of Infinite Space, Infinite God II at Amazon http://ow.ly/4F48e .
(J Sherer lives in Southern California and works as a marketing supervisor for a large credit union. When he’s not writing, he enjoys playing sports, catching up on his favorite stories, and working with others on business strategies and tactics. His blog, Constructing Stories (www.jsherer.com), is a place where writers of all levels can engage in meaningful dialogue about the writing and storytelling process. He also partners with Nathan Scheck to present a free online science fiction adventure experience called Time Slingers (www.timeslingers.com). J Sherer’s past publication credits include Infinite Space, Infinite God; Dragons, Knights, and Angels Magazine; and the West Wind.)
By Peter Gill
International responsiveness to the food crisis in the Horn of Africa has relied again on the art of managing the headlines. Sophisticated early warning systems that foresee the onset of famine have been in place for years, but still the world waits until it is very nearly too late before taking real action – and then paying for it.
The big aid organisations, official and non-government, are right to say they have been underlining the gravity of the present emergency for months, at least from the beginning of the year. On June 7 FEWS NET (the Famine Early Warning Systems Network funded by USAID) declared that more than seven million in the Horn needed help and the ‘current humanitarian response is inadequate to prevent further deterioration.’ Two seasons of very poor rainfall had resulted ‘in one of the driest years since 1995.’ Still the world did not judge this to be the clarion call for decisive intervention.
Three weeks later, on June 28, OCHA (the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) said that more than nine million needed help and that the pastoral border zones of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya were facing ‘one of the driest years since 1950/51.’ Six decades! Two generations! A story at last! The media mountain moved, and the NGO fund-raisers marched on behind.
I have The Times of July 5 in front of me. ‘Spectre of famine returns to Africa after the worst drought for decades,’ says the main headline in World news. On page 11 there is a half-page appeal from Save the Children illustrated with a picture of a six-week old Kenyan called Ibrahim ‘facing starvation.’ On page 17 Oxfam has its own half page saying that ‘more than 12 million people have been hit by the worst drought in 60 years.’ The Times that day also carried a Peter Brookes cartoon of a hollow-faced African framed in the map of Africa, with his mouth opened wide for food.
So, for 2011, an image of Africa has again been fixed in the western consciousness. It is an image of suffering – worse, of an impotent dependence on outsiders – that most certainly exists, but is only part of the story, even in the Horn.
The western world may understand something of the four-way colonial carve-up and the post-colonial disaster that overtook the Somali homeland, but it certainly has no proper answers to the conflicts and dislocation that lead to starvation and death. In northern Kenya, to which so many thousands of Somali pastoralists have fled in recent months, the West does have an answer of sorts – it can feed people in the world’s largest refugee camp, in the thin expectation of better times back across the border. Then there is Ethiopia, with several million of its own people needing help, its own Somali population swollen by refugees, and the country for ever associated with the terrible famine of 25 years ago which launched the modern era of aid.
Here it is possible to make some predictions. There will be no widespread death from starvation in Ethiopia, not even in its own drought-affected Somali region where an insurgency promotes insecurity and displacement. New arrangements between the Ethiopian government and the UN’s World Food Programme have insured more reliable and equitable food distribution, and the Government presses on with schemes to settle pastoralists driven by persistently poor rains from their semi-nomadic lifestyles.
The government of Meles Zenawi, which has just marked 20 years in power, has on the whole a creditable record in response to the prospect of famine.In 2003/4 the country faced a far larger food crisis than it did it in 1984, but emerged from it with very few extra deaths. In the former famine lands of the North where there is an impressive commitment to grass-roots development there is almost no chance of a retu